Thursday, May 27, 2010

View on the News 20/05/10

America: Tea Party leader Mark Williams says Muslims worship a 'monkey god'

A national Tea Party leader protesting a proposed mosque near near Ground Zero, has angered Muslims nationwide by saying they worship "the terrorists' monkey god." Mark Williams, chairman of the Tea Party Express, blogged about the 13-story mosque and Islamic cultural center planned at Park Place and Broadway, calling it a monument to the 9/11 terrorists. "The monument would consist of a Mosque for the worship of the terrorists' monkey-god," Williams, a frequent guest on CNN, wrote on his blog. In an email to the NY Daily News, Williams said his comments were specifically aimed at the terrorists, which he described as "the animals of Allah."

French cabinet unites to pass burka bill as violence against Muslims mount

Rising tension over the burka has led to violent attacks, as the French cabinet yesterday approved a draft law to ban garments "designed to hide the face" in the country. The bill will now go before parliament in July. President Nicolas Sarkozy told assembled ministers: "In this matter the government is taking a path it knows to be difficult, but a path it knows to be just," according to his office. He said France was "an old nation united around a certain idea of personal dignity, particularly women's dignity, and of life together. It's the fruit of centuries of efforts." As the issue grows ever more contentious it has led to isolated incidents of violence in the country. A heated debate on the face-covering veil degenerated into violence and verbal aggression on Tuesday night, the eve of the presentation of the anti-burka bill. Last week, France experienced its first official case of "burka rage" when a 60-year-old female lawyer is alleged to have tried to pull a Muslim woman's veil from her face. The Muslim woman, formerly a practising Catholic, named only as Elodie, said she had been leaving a shoe shop in Trignac, near Nantes in western France, when two passers-by started insulting her before telling her to "return to her country". Muslim graves have been desecrated and a mosque and halal butcher's shop shot at in recent weeks. A woman was fined for driving while veiled last month. The Council of State, France's top legal advisory body, has already warned that a complete ban on veils in public would be unconstitutional, but Mr Sarkozy said the government had decided "in good conscience" that it must outlaw them, telling the cabinet meeting that government and parliament must shoulder their political and moral responsibility. "This is a decision one doesn't take lightly. Nobody should feel hurt or stigmatised. I'm thinking in particular of our Muslim compatriots, who have their place in the republic and should feel respected." According to the text of the draft law, those who flout it will be fined €150 (£130) or sent on a citizenship course. Anyone who forces someone, through threats, violence or misuse of a position of authority, to cover her face because of her sex will be jailed for a year and fined €15,000, the law says. The Interior Ministry estimates that of France's five million-strong Muslim minority, the largest in Europe, there are 1,900 women who cover their faces with veils.

Obama to pursue UN sanctions despite Iran nuclear deal

US President Barack Obama has vowed to pursue fresh UN sanctions against Iran despite Tehran's nuclear deal with Turkey and Brazil. Mr Obama telephoned Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan to say Iran's moves still "do not build confidence". Brazil and Turkey earlier urged fellow members of the UN Security Council to heed a deal they struck with Iran over its nuclear programme. The deal would see Tehran trade uranium for ready-enriched reactor fuel. Many Western countries have long suspected Iran is trying to make a nuclear weapon, but Tehran insists its programme is for purely peaceful, energy purposes. Mr Obama told Mr Erdogan there were still "fundamental concerns" about Iran's nuclear programme. The White House said Mr Obama had acknowledged the deal set out by Turkey and Brazil. But the US president "stressed the international community's continuing and fundamental concerns about Iran's overall nuclear programme, as well as Iran's failure to live up to its international obligations". The statement added: "Further, he indicated that negotiations on a new UN Security Council resolution will continue."

Nato seeks Muslim help in Afghan fight

Muslim countries must send more police and army trainers to rebuild Afghanistan because the threat of terrorism poses a bigger risk to the region’s stability than to the West’s, Nato’s top diplomat to the war-torn country said in an interview this week. Afghanistan desperately needs to secure its borders and police its cities to protect against insurgent networks and prevent terrorism from spreading across the region, said Mark Sedwill, the Nato senior civilian representative who represents the political leadership of the 28-member alliance. “What we’d like to see is the Muslim world really engaging in Afghanistan both on the development side and military side,” he said, though he stressed that he was not asking for Muslim nations to send soldiers to fight. “The more it is seen as an international effort and not a western effort the better, because among the Afghan people it creates a greater sense of legitimacy,” he said. Mr Sedwill spoke on the eve of what is being called the biggest military offensive since the war began in 2001 as Nato and Afghan forces attempt to seize Kandahar from the Taliban.

Pakistan agrees to US demands to launch operations in Waziristan

Pakistan agreed in principle on Wednesday to launch a full-fledged military operation against the Taliban in North Waziristan. “Pakistan is sincere and committed in combating terrorism and is ready to expand its anti-militancy operations to North Waziristan. However, for that we will require time to do the necessary shaping up. The operation will be started according to our own judgment,” a senior official told Dawn after US National Security Adviser Gen James Jones and CIA chief Leon Panetta held a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Chief of the Army Staff Gen Parvez Kayani. The US has been pressing Pakistan for some time to act decisively against militant sanctuaries in North Waziristan, but the pressure has increased since the recent botched attack on New York’s Times Square. The US alleged that the bombing accused, Faisal Shahzad, had received training in North Waziristan and said it was necessary to clear the region of Taliban, Al Qaeda and other jihadi groups.

Indian reports high lights the discrimination against Muslim education

Muslims continue to remain the country’s most backward community on the educational front. The ratio of Muslims enrolled in a formal education system to those pursing higher education in India is lowest among all communities, including the Scheduled Tribes (STs), considered most backward, says the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) report released on Wednesday. Of 100 Muslims in the education system, just 10 are enrolled in high school and above. Similar ratio for STs is 11, Scheduled Castes (SCs) 12 and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) is 14. “It is not surprising,” said Tahir Mahmood, member of the Ranganath Mishra Committee, which has asked the government to reserve seats for Muslims in educational institutions. The report also highlighted that the educational disparity among religious groups, especially Muslims, was more in urban areas, which has better educational facilities. Just seven of urban Muslims in the education system were enrolled in high school or above as compared to 12 in rural areas. “It indicates that prejudice against education among urban Muslims was higher,” said Satish Deshpande, a Delhi School of Economics professor.

20th May 2010

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